Breaking News: WNBA Star Brittney Griner Released from Russian Prison

Steph Hogan '23, Junior Co-Editor

Today in a joint mediation in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, the Russian and U.S. governments have come to an agreement on a prisoner swap to set WNBA star basketball star Brittney Griner free from a Russian prison.

Russia agreed to release Griner from their detention in exchange for Viktor Bout otherwise known as “The Merchant Of Death.” Bout was serving a 25-year sentence in America on terrorism charges with specific intent to sell tens of millions of dollars in weapons that were determined to be used against Americans. For years prior to his capture, Bout had spent years aiding terrorist organizations.

The prisoner swap occurred at Abu Dhabi’s airport. Russia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed their end of the swap earlier this morning, saying Bout was en route, but had yet to land in Russia. BBC News released a clip from President Biden’s speech from the Oval Office saying, “Griner is safe on a plane home to the United States, but needs time and space to recover.”

The final deal between Russia and the United States did not include ex-U.S. Marine Paul Whelan as originally intended. Whelan is currently serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on charges of espionage in Russia for the United States. Biden has made it clear that the U.S. is now shifting focus on continuing its efforts to get another exchange conducted to bring him home.

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